- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Department of Human Services’ new director has told lawmakers that she plans to review the department’s administrative structure during the next 60 days with the goal of altering it.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/24V56Pn ) reports that Cindy Gillespie became the department’s director March 1, succeeding longtime director John Selig. She said she wants to take a look at how the department handles contracts, facilities, finance and procurement.

Democratic state Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville says he believes the department handles these things “poorly.”

Gillespie said she’s not claiming anything is broken, but that she wants to improve the agency.

“We have had some great success,” she said. “But every organization - I think that is part of its life cycle - has to reassess itself. You always have to be improving. We cannot just be static.”

Gillespie says she plans to consider consolidating the administration, making the department more efficient and making better use of its buying power.

“The folks that are out in the field should be able to deal with the people that they are helping,” Gillespie said. “Often it is the bureaucracies and it is the structures that make their jobs harder.”

She says she’ll send recommendations to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, implement what he approves and seek Legislative approval for changes that need lawmakers’ go-ahead. She hopes to propose any desired changes in state law to the 2017 regular session of the General Assembly.

Gillespie formerly worked as a health care adviser to then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. She will be paid $280,000 a year, pending legislative approval. Selig was paid more than $162,647 annually. Gillespie is working under a contract until the Legislature can consider the higher salary in the fiscal session starting mid-April.

The department has about 7,000 employees and an $8.3 billion budget. The agency includes social services for behavioral health services, children and family services, services for the disabled and more.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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